Archive for Monday, February 20, 2012


Pharmacists weigh in with advice about vitamin supplements

February 20, 2012


When it comes to understanding which vitamins are right for you, it can be tricky to know what your body needs. For some, a multivitamin can help fill in gaps in nutrition, for others, extra calcium and vitamin D are needed to help keep bones strong and healthy.

While most Americans will turn to their local pharmacist with questions concerning prescription medicines, few ask about which vitamins and supplements are right for them.

In fact, many Americans don’t realize they have unlimited free access to a health expert — their local pharmacist — who can provide detailed guidance on products sold at the pharmacy. This includes everything from over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines to vitamins and supplements.

A recent survey sponsored by Nature Made found that pharmacists estimate they answer questions regarding prescription medications for about half of their customers. By comparison, they estimate they answer questions about OTC products for just one in three customers (35 percent) — and when it comes to answering questions about vitamins and supplements, they estimate they do so for just one in five customers (23 percent).

Pharmacist Tips for Vitamin Supplements

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than half of all U.S. adults are now taking supplements, which makes understanding the difference between quality vitamins even more crucial. Approximately nine in 10 pharmacists (93 percent) agree taking vitamins and supplements is important for maintaining good overall health. When choosing between brands to recommend, pharmacists consider the following:

  • Product quality. Nearly nine in 10 pharmacists (85 percent) say that product quality is a very important factor when deciding whether or not to recommend a specific brand of vitamin.
  • Product purity. Many people may not be aware that it’s important to consider a vitamin’s purity. In fact, nearly four in five pharmacists (77 percent) say that product purity is very important in choosing whether or not to recommend a brand, and two in three (65 percent) say the same of product potency as well.

Top Pharmacist Recommendations

The survey also found that pharmacists were “very” and “somewhat” likely to recommend the following:

  • In addition to recommending fish oil to support heart health, two in three pharmacists (63 percent) are also likely to suggest flaxseed oil and about half (47 percent) recommend garlic.
  • Nine in 10 pharmacists recommend certain vitamins and supplements like Vitamin D to fill specific nutrition gaps.
  • Only about two in five pharmacists (42 percent) recommend ginkgo biloba for mental alertness.
  • For urinary and immune health, four in five (82 percent) recommend cranberry.
  • To maintain normal energy levels, nine in 10 (91 percent) recommend a B vitamin complex, and about three in four (72 percent) recommend an iron supplement. In addition, pharmacists are two times more likely to recommend a protein-based product over a caffeine-based product for maintaining energy.


melott 6 years, 3 months ago

Since the pharmacists don't know that iron is a poison in the quantities most Americans get, I would advise ignoring everything in this article.

kernal 6 years, 3 months ago

Don't you think it depends on age and gender, melott?

Luke_Cliff 6 years, 3 months ago

Pretty much every pharmacist knows that most Americans receive plenty of iron and if the pharmacists you speak to recommend iron to a person without inquiring about how much iron they get already, sue them for malpractice.

bendover61 6 years, 3 months ago

Essentially no men and only a few women need iron supplements.

Dixie Jones 6 years, 3 months ago

Melott what percentage would that be ???

Ryan Neuhofel 6 years, 3 months ago

"A recent survey sponsored by Nature Made" That is probably all you need to know.

Furthermore, other than spreading an advertisement to "buy more vitamins", I'm not really sure the purpose of this article.

verity 6 years, 3 months ago

From the research I've done over the years, I'm not convinced that, for the most part, vitamin supplements do any good at all. I take calcium because my doctor has ordered it, but I really wonder about that too. It does seem that many of us may need a Vitamin D supplement, as even being out in the sun does't guarantee you will get sufficient amounts needed to absorb calcium. You only get Vitamin D if your skin is exposed to the sun, not through clothes or sun screen.

Before you start taking massive doses of calcium, ask for a bone density test.

The trouble with all the herbal supplements is (1) no one knows at what level they are helpful or harmful, and ((2) there are no guarantees as to how much is in any supplement. They are not regulated and even if you grow them yourself, one grown in one part of a garden may differ from the same thing grown in another part.

Personally, I think the whole thing is mostly a scam and to assume that your pharmacist can give you good advice on this is assuming that (s)he has actually studied the matter and isn't just parroting what they've been told by a company who manufactures them. You can learn more by doing your own research on the internet and reading a variety of articles. Mayo Clinic has a lot of information on their website and Consumer's Reports generally seems to be reliable.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

I go with C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general, on this one, and take a comprehensive mutli-vitamin/mineral supplement daily.

Mega doses of anything are likely to be potentially harmful, so I avoid them.

impska 6 years, 3 months ago

I feel like my health is improved since I started taking a multivitamin. The only measurable difference is that I get sick less often with cold/flu. But I generally feel healthier too.

I also take a flaxseed/fish oil supplement for Omega 3's and 6's. This stuff is marketed for heart health, but I started taking it for chronic dry eye. It makes a huge difference. I'm not going to be funding a study any time soon, but I personally think it makes a bigger difference than the prescription eye drops I use.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

My mother was taking 11 prescriptions daily. We researched her medications and discovered some might be creating other problems while at the same time contradicting others. Side effects as they are known.

After contacting our pharmacist and her doctor to share our thoughts all agreed that reducing the number of drugs being consumed would work. If senior citizens are in your family it might be a good idea for relatives to review medicines prescribed.

She is now doing only 4 drugs a day instead of 11.

Doctors treat symptoms they do not offer cures. Prescription drugs are not cures.

verity 6 years, 3 months ago

I've heard a number of similar stories.

Always question why a doctor is prescribing you or a family member any drug.

I took a vitamin/mineral supplement for years (major, well-known brand) and can't tell any difference in how I feel after I stopped. But I am also careful about getting a balanced diet.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

If the pharmaceutical industry had its way all vitamins would be available only by prescription. It's not about consumer safety it is about the big dollars consumers spend on improving their health at this point in history.

Vitamins and herbs have become a sizeable competitor in the world of better health. After all a strong immune system relies on a healthy diet for nutrition. Vitamins and herbs can provide an immune system with a boost.

Vitamins and herbs can be a great supplement to a healthy diet however cannot replace the produce,legumes and whole grains section of a grocery store.

I do two whole food multivitamins a day and Green Vibrance.

About vitamin and herb intake: Always follow directions.

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